You’re Scaring Me, Obama: Let the Bush Years Die

To be honest, Obama, you lost me when you voted for the PATRIOT Act reauthorization in 2006. You lost me again when you voted for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) amendment in 2008. And you lost me every single time you voted for yet more war funding.

Don’t even get me started on your vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout.

I cast a ballot for you in November, but I just can’t share in this moment of collective euphoria over your election.

So, if your transition team really wants feedback on “where President-Elect Obama should lead this country,” here’s a Top Five list:

1. Dump the Bush Doctrine and don’t start more wars

You’ve made it clear that the US has to “take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights” and you’ve argued for “more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11.”

What exactly does that mean?

Take troops out of Iraq and shove them into Afghanistan? Further destabilize Pakistan?

The whole idea of preemptive war (a.k.a. the Bush Doctrine) has no place in a civilized society and must be laid to rest, along with those sacrificed in Bush’s military adventurism these past eight years.

Yet your approach to preemptive war, Mr. Obama, is nuanced at best.

During the January 2008 Democratic presidential debate, you said that if the US had “actionable intelligence” and Pakistan didn’t “take on Al Qaida in their territory,” then “I would strike.” You added, “And that’s the flaw of the Bush doctrine. It wasn’t that he went after those who attacked America. It was that he went after those who didn’t.”

No, the flaw of the Bush Doctrine is that it’s just plain wrong. We’ve learned that the hard way.

2. Ditch the warmongers

What’s with all of the hawks in your new administration?

You presented yourself as a peace candidate and then chose Joe Biden as your VP. Yes, he brought in the white male vote, but he also backed the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Just last month Biden warned that if you were elected, there would be “an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.” He said that you would make some “incredibly tough decisions” that could alienate the Democratic base, because if decisions are “popular, they’re probably not sound.”

In other words, a popular decision, one that the majority of the people wants, is probably not a good decision. Democracy to Biden…

And then there’s Robert Gates, widely rumored to be staying on as your Defense Secretary. Questions about Gates’ role in Iran-Contra, not to mention his skewing of intelligence about Russia, still linger.

But especially disturbing is his recent push for beefing up the US nuclear arsenal: “As long as other nations have or seek nuclear weapons – and can potentially threaten us, our allies and friends – then we must have a deterrent capacity that makes it clear that challenging the United States in the nuclear arena, or with weapons of mass destruction, could result in an overwhelming, catastrophic response.”

Let’s get this straight: if other nations are even imagined to “seek” nuclear weapons, that “could result in an overwhelming, catastrophic response” from the US.

Obama, you’ve often insisted on taking “no options off the table” in dealing with Iran. How does Gates’ proposal for the preemptive use of nuclear weapons factor in there?

While we’re on the topic of warmongers in your midst… Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff? Yet another hawk, hell-bent on Iran and enamored with nuclear weapons.

And now we’ve got Clinton as Secretary of State.

Why is it that none of the 23 senators and 133 House Reps who voted against the war in Iraq are even on a short-list for these critical posts?

3. Close Guantanamo – and the whole system of secret prisons

Shutting down Gitmo is said to be a priority for your new administration. Terrific.

But what about Bagram? What about the other CIA “black site” secret prisons set up in Afghanistan, Thailand, Eastern Europe and elsewhere? What about the CIA torture flights? Will those end too?

Closing Gitmo also raises questions over how “high value” defendants will be handled. Your administration is reportedly considering setting up an alternative court system to deal with sensitive cases. But what safeguards will be in place to be sure that this new system won’t degenerate into kangaroo courts, like Bush’s military commissions?

It’s a disturbing signal that you’ve appointed John Brennan, who has supported extraordinary rendition and warrantless wiretapping, to help review intelligence agencies for your administration. As former CIA and State Department analyst Mel Goodman noted, Brennan “sat there at [former CIA Director George] Tenet’s knee when they passed judgment on torture and abuse, on extraordinary renditions, on black sites, on secret prisons. He was part of all of that decision making.”

And this is who will help lead us out of this mess?

You’ve criticized the use of torture, yet reportedly will not bring criminal charges against those who authorized or conducted torture during the Bush years. Your administration doesn’t see it as politically expedient, and Bush might give “preemptive” pardons anyway.

But can we really end this dark chapter in our nation’s history without even an investigation? A Truth Commission, perhaps? Providing blanket immunity to all low-level and senior government officials won’t prevent possible war crimes from happening again. Quite the opposite.

4. Expose Bush & Co., and ditch the national surveillance state

Speaking of war crimes, how about Bush, Cheney and the rest? You’ll soon be given access to Bush-era secret orders and opinions authorizing everything from surveillance to detention. You’ll no doubt rescind many, to great fanfare, but what about sharing this evidence of Bush-year excesses with the public?

Yes, Bush could file a lawsuit and invoke executive privilege, but it’s worth the fight. The only other option is shielding Bush & Co., similar to how you will reportedly shield those government officials involved in torture. But the public deserves to know. And if Bush administration officials violated the law, they should be prosecuted.

Now, back to your vote for both the PATRIOT Act reauthorization in 2006 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment in 2008. These and other rollbacks in domestic civil liberties under Bush are inexcusable and must be addressed. We’ll be waiting for you to do that.

5. Choose Main Street (not Wall Street)

Just this month you promised Americans that they can “turn the page on policies that have put the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street.”

Yet, as Bloomberg notes, “almost half the people” on your Transition Economic Advisory Board “have held fiduciary positions at companies that, to one degree or another, either fried their financial statements, helped send the world into an economic tailspin, or both.”

This includes, for example, Anne Mulcahy and Richard Parsons, both of whom were Fannie Mae directors when the company fudged accounting rules. Ditto for another of your team members, William Daley.

Mulcahy and Parsons additionally held executive posts when their companies (Xerox Corp. and Time Warner Inc., respectively) got busted for accounting fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Also on your team is Robert Rubin, who as Bloomberg notes, was “chairman of Citigroup Inc.’s executive committee when the bank pushed bogus analyst research, helped Enron Corp. cook its books, and got caught baking its own. He was a director from 2000 to 2006 at Ford Motor Co., which also committed accounting fouls and now is begging Uncle Sam for Citigroup-style bailout cash.”

The list of questionable appointees to your Transitional Economic Advisory Board goes on and on, begging the question: Is this really the best you could come up with? How about Joseph Stiglitz, Sheila Bair, Nouriel Roubini or James K. Galbraith, for starters? Someone who represents labor?

Meanwhile, we’re stuck with this nasty bailout bill – which you voted for.

Others, such as Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), realized the bill’s problems and voted against it. Feingold said that the Wall Street bailout legislation, “fails to reform the flawed regulatory structure that permitted this crisis to arise in the first place. And it doesn’t do enough to address the root cause of the credit market collapse, namely the housing crisis. Taxpayers deserve a plan that puts their concerns ahead of those who got us into this mess.”

Feingold was right.

In short, Mr. President-elect, you promised “Change we can believe in,” but across the board it’s looking a lot more like “Business as usual.”

Heather Wokusch is the author of The Progressives' Handbook: Get the Facts and Make a Difference Now, which went to #1 on Amazon's political activism charts in December 2007. Read other articles by Heather, or visit Heather's website.

46 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on November 22nd, 2008 at 8:19am #

    wokusch voted for indivisible hand that governs all of Usans. one that had to date waged 180 wars and now expects different policies from the same ruling class. thnx

  2. Don Hawkins said on November 22nd, 2008 at 8:46am #

    President Obama do you read DV? Because the people who write on DV or read DV will be watching with great interest if you are the man you say you are. Then there is all those other minds out there the smartest minds on this planet who will be kind of keeping on eye on the way you move forward. I know one thing for sure if I see Greenwash or BAU I will try my best to see a few million people out front of your office to wake you up. The truth the whole truth. We know this will not be easy but we will work with you.

  3. Max Shields said on November 22nd, 2008 at 9:08am #

    Don, Thank you for mentioning “greenwash”. Greenwash is not only the cynical and destructive forces of the corporate masters, it represents an evil which attempts to undermine any progressive movement. It is the ultimate bait and switch tactic.

    Obama has chosen for his secretary of treasury, a man who is ensconsed in the Wall Street Bailout scheme/hoax – Timothy Geithner, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “Change you can believe in. Yes you can???”

    The problem with Obama (and more specifically, those clinging to the Democratic president-elect of hope) are his instincts. His inclination is to respond to the collapse by trying to return it to where it was before the collapse. He doesn’t get that, and won’t. He got elected by running within and of the system. He sees his job as making sure the power elite are happy with him. Malcolm X had a historical slave term for that.

    Obama wants to make corporate capitalism and free trade work. Perhaps a tad more regulation, but it is all about SAVING, not CHANGING.

    Perhaps there is some merit to the notion that Obama is using the FDR and Lincoln models. Both were not about change, but about saving. What gets buried in this attempt to salvage the empire (Civil War) and capitalism (New Deal) is the underlying problem; i.e., the very core of the problem is NEVER addressed. It is forced into a kind of remission, like a cancer. It returns stronger than before; perhaps a decade or two later and it is worse than what it was before an administration pushed back a bit.

    But today, we are faced with something much more perilous; and keeping the same stewards/guards of capitalism and war in the driver’s seat will hit a mighty bump with reality – and it will be a non-negotiable bump. Accommodating the collapse and transforming the empire is the work at hand; not trying to save what has been saved over and again to the ruination of so many lives.

    We almost need to start saying, enough with this Obama. He should be watched, and comments made, but there is little to think that he is just not what he’s been all along – an extension of Clinton neoliberalism.

  4. Ramsefall said on November 22nd, 2008 at 9:10am #


    your observation of Obama’s cabinet pick momentum is spot on, certainly no indication of change. Hearing his political rhetoric throughout the election was obviously nothing but hot air, from my point of view but contrary to many back home. It’s likely that the majority of his voters became easily confused by eloquent oratory skills and a fresh face in comparison. It’s somewhat understandable how desperation leads to irrationality, and thereby pardonable in a state of near panic.

    Reading your article I’m reminded of my high school English students here in Colombia, a majority of whom think they understand US politics, believing that it’s actually a strong democracy. They fail to grasp the reality and power of the Establishment that props up the acceptable candidates in our elections in order to maintain their interests. The students ranted on from 3,000 miles away how Obama is the man for change, according to their mainstream press releases here that are so congruent with the US. However, to no avail via historical record I have struggled to impart an accurate image of our political system, but most still want to believe that US Presidents are men of honor and that JFK was taken out by a magic bullet.

    Trying to free minds to see the truth for what it is can be an immense uphill battle, which is why I’ve decided to quit wasting my time and just let Obama’s actions speak volumes come January. While I won’t argue that Obama is lesser an evil than McCain or Bush, he’s far from the change we need, something the whole world will realize soon enough.

    Best to you.

  5. Max Shields said on November 22nd, 2008 at 9:17am #

    Heather, I won’t quibble with your article; I pretty much agree. But the important thing to note is that there really isn’t a Bush Doctrine. The American Empire runs on a shared vision of American exceptionalism and interventionism. It plays out a bit different from one admin to another but there is a consistent trail of hegemony and imperialism pretty much the US of A’s inception as it was born out of European imperialism.

    I’m always curious about people who voted for Obama and yet have such a clear sense of his equivocation, obfuscation, and general genuflection when confronted with the challenge of courage and leadership. Still it’s good to see you’re clear-headed post and recognition of what is before us.

  6. HR said on November 22nd, 2008 at 10:50am #

    So, Heather, with all your foreknowledge, why did you go ahead and vote for Obama? There WERE other choices. Nader/Gonzalez was on most ballots, or you could have written in McKinney/Clemente. Oh, I forgot, all you great thinkers didn’t want to “waste” your vote or else were more afraid of McCain than Obama, although their policies are practically the same, judging from their voting records. I am so sick of people who know better choosing to go along with the conventional wisdom that says third parties do not have a chance (which is true when people fail to vote for them). That outlook is why change never comes, and never will. And now, the rest of us must suffer through buyer’s remorse articles like this, articles that tell us nothing new, but apparently help you and other writers deal with your guilty consciences.

  7. Erroll said on November 22nd, 2008 at 12:02pm #


    Bingo! I am in full agreement with your observation and amazement that people like Heather Wokusch can vote for a person like Barack Obama with the realization of what Obama stands for. What is just as heinous is when progressives and leftists laud the fact that there was this giant social movement that coalesced behind Obama while conveniently disregarding the fact, as Ms. Wokusch lamentably observes, that Obama may not have been the candidate that they somehow thought that he would be. Though this will probably end up sounding like a cliche, it cannot be repeated enough times that voting for the lesser of two evils still ends up producing an evil, as the people of Afghanistan will readily attest if the [alleged] anti-war president-elect fulfills his pledge to send more American soldiers into that war-ravaged country, where they will undoubtedly add more misery and suffering to what the Afghans have already endured at the hands of American militarism.

  8. Mike Chopapa said on November 22nd, 2008 at 12:12pm #

    6. Come clean with the American public and the world about Peak Oil. Make this a collapse that we can live with.

  9. Hue Longer said on November 22nd, 2008 at 3:10pm #

    I also find it strange that true lesser evilismers (as opposed to the ones who just say it when the conversation goes above their heads), think that their progressive ideals are held or even understood by all the Democrat faithful. Really, people like Heather are a very tiny percentage of those voting Obama in. With this being the case, what did they expect they’d be able to influence? All of the good folks of Europe, Australia and the US are still dancing in the streets that the guy won. That surely wasn’t what Progressives for Obama wanted, but they should have predicted it and voted for Nader, because McCain would have been far better than what they have to deal with now.

  10. Brian said on November 22nd, 2008 at 6:36pm #

    Obama lost me within two minutes when I first heard him on tv at the DNC 2004. I had been reading about this man on dailykos for months: Obama this and Obama that and he’s so great and all that.

    Withint moments of actually seeing this guy and hearing what he had to say it was clear: he’s a modern day Booker T. Washington.

    Well, that ain’t good enough. Not even close.

  11. Danny Ray said on November 22nd, 2008 at 7:11pm #

    Thank you for a wonderful article. As someone who did not get the president of his choice, I can now allow myself to sit back and grin. The people who really make me laugh are the ones of you who still think there is going to be some change. You had a wonderful candidate in Nader who would bring change. I cannot say that would be change I would appreciate but it would still be change. However, you would not back him because it was a long shot. So now you got Curious George. Instead of voting their beliefs they voted for the empty shirt candidate who was completely handled and what is most frightening is the fact that he was handled by people that we have no clue who they are. I find it amazing to think that all these change heads or obamaites or what ever they want to be called really believe that Obama raised $750,000,000.00 by having people send in $100.00 at a time. Please excuse my crudity but, bull crap little Amy.

    If you don’t believe this whole thing was a sham, just think about how in the very first post election speech he stated the couldn’t do everything he promised in the first year maybe not in the first four years and maybe not even any second term. If I brought a man into one of my teams and the first words he said to me was, sorry skipper I can’t do what I was posted here to do, I would have had his butt to the door before he finished saluting. Obama is an empty shirt two is never done anything yet. except say he wanted to be the president.

  12. Beverly said on November 22nd, 2008 at 8:21pm #

    Voters like Heather are the reason we will never get any real change for the better – they keep voting for the lesser of two evils. She points out how Obama “lost” her along the way but she still goose stepped to the polls to elect him – probably because like most left leaners, she was scared shitless of another Republican term. Funny thing is, another Republican term is what you got, only with a savvier, more articulate and black face fronting the show.

    A To-Do list for Obama? Too damn late. Time for that was pre-election. He’s gotten what he needed from Joe and Jane Q. Public – their votes. Now he’s off to serve the interests, whims, and desires of the corporate and political power structure who vetted him years ago and have bankrolled and paved the way for his coronation. Joe and Jane only have votes to hold over politician’s heads, not the big checks and lobbying power of corporations. If Joe and Jane don’t demand their share of the swag before they vote – as well as stop voting for those who continually screw them – they will keep ending up empty handed.

    I’m sure we’ll see more buyers’ remorse comments on this site and even in the mainstream press as people sleep off their Obama kool-aid hangovers. Or, maybe not. That kool-aid Obama Inc peddled was mighty strong rot gut – barring a major Bimbo eruption or Watergate-like scandal, I fear we might have a permanently hungover, stupified, Obamalobotomized public for the next few generations.

  13. garciamayra said on November 22nd, 2008 at 9:26pm #

    Your stance is so pre-November 2008 Neocon hate-speech like. I’m going to school you now: Get brave and attack instead, the globalists, and the NAFTA democrats who are so loathe to give up the power money, that they have plugged the same ideology into his Cabinet to insure continued crimes against the people of the US. Look especially at corrupt LOCAL officials who admitted fraud in past elections and for which nation’s landmark vote fraud case is being buried.

    Geez, did you NOT hear Obama pleading for The People to govern in almost every speech he gave? Did you ever analyze his face in any video? He knew he’d be like a White House prairie pioneer surrounded by danger.

    Part of this is Propaganda 101. Then put yourself in Obama’s shoes. So there are landmines at every level – from global to local. Like in the classic film, “The Firm” Tom Cruise brought down the machine by going back to the basics and by using regular people.

    If 53% of the voters (like you) wake up, speak up and help out, the greed against us can stop and Obama will be able to lead the team – “US”. If not, Obama is abandoned and so are we.

  14. HR said on November 22nd, 2008 at 10:59pm #

    Well, it’s nice to dream, garciamayra. Are you suggesting that Obama had no part in selecting his advisors and his cabinet? I mean if he’s so weak that he lets others call the shots even in that area, he certainly is incapable of governing. During the campaign, I didn’t hear Obama promising much of anything in the way of hopeful specifics. Just some vague and clever babble of hope and change and an ability to get audiences to chant, “Yes we can. Yes we can.” I did hear him specifically speak of increasing the size of the bloated military. I did hear him specifically speak of lowered benefits and a higher retirement age as options that deserve exploration to “fix” a Social Security system that ain’t broken to begin with (no mention of removing the cap on income subject to the tax). To me, he spoke very plainly: he was just another candidate standing for maintenance of the status quo. And you better believe that if people organize seriously to attack the globalists and NAFTA Democrats, Mr. Obama will totally support repressive policing efforts to stop them, just as Clinton did to those opposing the WTO in Seattle back in 1999.

  15. pub said on November 23rd, 2008 at 12:30am #

    lol, it means you got conned. Again. Your libs said they’d get us out of Iraq in 2006 too. They got your votes, but they didn’t get us out even though they could. Liberals are the most gullible people on earth.

    They also really believe the world hates us because of Bush and Iraq too.

  16. SMS said on November 23rd, 2008 at 4:22am #

    I am surprised no one has mentioned Obama’s support for AIPAC. Along with NAFTA, the war mongers, etc. That is a key problem. I also believe he should reverse the star wars agreements with Poland and Czech Republic as the USA has no right to police the world. The USA needs to focus on itself and stop being a world “dictator”! The USA has serious problems right inside of its own borders that need attention.
    I agree with HR that Obama will oppose change rather than make it…

  17. Danny Ray said on November 23rd, 2008 at 7:51am #

    Pub libs only believe what they want to believe, Its always like that, they live in a fairy tale land where people will not hurt you if you are nice to them. and all we have to do to make something happen is to really believe, or Hope For Change, I keep telling these guys that Hope is not a plan.

  18. Don Hawkins said on November 23rd, 2008 at 9:39am #

    Tax and 100% dividend. A “carbon tax with 100 percent dividend” is required for
    reversing the growth of atmospheric CO2. The tax, applied to oil, gas and coal at the mine or
    port of entry, is the fairest and most effective way to reduce emissions and transition to the
    post fossil fuel era. It would assure that unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar shale and tar
    sands, stay in the ground, unless an economic method of capturing the CO2 is developed.
    The entire tax should be returned to the public, equal shares on a per capita basis (half
    shares for children up to a maximum of two child-shares per family), deposited monthly in
    bank accounts. No bureaucracy is needed.
    A tax should be called a tax. The public can understand this and will accept a tax if it is
    clearly explained and if 100 percent of the money is returned to the public. Not one dime
    should go to Washington for politicians to pick winners. No lobbyists need be employed.
    The public will take steps to reduce their emissions because they will continually be
    reminded of the matter by the monthly dividend and by rising fossil fuel costs. It must be
    clearly explained to the public that the tax rate will continue to increase in the future.
    When fuel prices decline, the tax should increase, to retain the incentive for transitioning
    to the post-fossil-fuel-era. The effect of reduced fossil fuel demand will be lower fossil fuel
    prices, making the tax a larger and larger portion of energy costs (for fossil fuels only). Thus
    the country will stop hemorrhaging its wealth to oil-producing states.
    Tax and dividend is progressive. A person with several large cars and a large house will
    have a tax greatly exceeding the dividend. A family reducing its carbon footprint to less than
    average will make money. Everyone will have an incentive to reduce their carbon footprint.

    Beware of alternative approaches, such as ‘percent emission reduction goals’ and ‘cap
    and trade’. These are subterfuges designed to allow business-as-usual to continue, under a
    pretense of action, a greenwashing. Hordes of lobbyists will argue for these approaches,
    which assure their continued employment. The ineffectiveness of ‘goals’ and ‘caps’ is made
    blatantly obvious by the fact that the countries promoting them are planning to build more

    Beware of alternative approaches, such as ‘percent emission reduction goals’ and ‘cap
    and trade’. These are subterfuges designed to allow business-as-usual to continue, under a
    pretense of action, a greenwashing. Hordes of lobbyists will argue for these approaches,
    which assure their continued employment. The ineffectiveness of ‘goals’ and ‘caps’ is made
    blatantly obvious by the fact that the countries promoting them are planning to build more
    coal-fired power plants.
    coal-fired power plants.
    If the United States accedes to the ineffectual ‘goals’ and ‘caps’ approach, in effect
    continuation of the Kyoto Protocol approach, it will practically guarantee disastrous climate

    Young people have recently worked hard to influence the
    democratic process. Now they expect the system to take appropriate actions. If that does not
    happen, surely they will begin to raise their voices louder. James Hansen and many more

    WASHINGTON (AFP) — The US Senate will take up two sweeping global warming bills in January, in the latest sign that Barack Obama’s election could quickly reverse years of US footdragging on climate change.

    Democratic Senators, openly gleeful that years of fierce struggles against George W. Bush’s Republican administration on the issue were drawing to a close, proclaimed the United States would undergo a “sea change” in environmental policy.

    “The time to start is now,” said Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, vowing to step up to Obama’s challenge to combat climate change and create millions of “green jobs” in the reeling US economy.

    Her intervention came two days after Democrat Obama, in one of the few public policy pronouncements since his historic victory two weeks ago, told the world that “denial” would no longer be the US policy on climate change.

    Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, said one bill would combat harmful gas emissions by providing 15 billion dollars a year to spur clean energy innovation and the development of advanced biofuels.

    The other piece of legislation will direct the US Environmental Protection Agency to set up a cap-and-trade system to stem greenhouse gas emissions.

    President Obama these are subterfuges designed to allow business-as-usual to continue, under a
    pretense of action, a greenwashing. Hordes of lobbyists will argue for these approaches,
    which assure their continued employment and guarantee disastrous climate
    change. Are you the man you say you are? You going to let these alligator shoed lobbyists tell you what to think without a fight? Remember the smartest minds we have are watching with great interest. Come on man do it take the high road transcend the bullshit use the knowledge.

    Beware of alternative approaches, such as ‘percent emission reduction goals’ and ‘cap
    and trade’ Beware of alternative approaches, such as ‘percent emission reduction goals’ and ‘cap
    and trade’. Hansen and many more

    Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, said one bill would combat harmful gas emissions by providing 15 billion dollars a year to spur clean energy innovation and the development of advanced biofuels.

    The other piece of legislation will direct the US Environmental Protection Agency to set up a cap-and-trade system to stem greenhouse gas emissions.

    And the meek shall inherit the Earth Mr. President.

  19. Don Hawkins said on November 23rd, 2008 at 10:07am #

    Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, said one bill would combat harmful gas emissions by providing 15 billion dollars a year to spur clean energy innovation and the development of advanced biofuels.

    The other piece of legislation will direct the US Environmental Protection Agency to set up a cap-and-trade system to stem greenhouse gas emissions. AFP

    President Obama these are subterfuges designed to allow business-as-usual to continue, under a
    pretense of action, a greenwashing. Hordes of lobbyists will argue for these approaches,
    which assure their continued employment and guarantee disastrous climate
    change. Are you the man you say you are? You going to let these alligator shoed lobbyists tell you what to think without a fight? Remember the smartest minds we have are watching with great interest. Come on man do it take the high road transcend the bullshit use the knowledge. Yes we know it will not be easy you can’t do this by yourself we will all help. The time is now you have to start thinking outside the box those walls need to come tumbling down. Use the knowledge very very hard at first many want to help use the knowledge.

  20. Deadbeat said on November 23rd, 2008 at 11:04am #

    There is a real disconnect with some of the comments I see here pertaining to this article. First and foremost there is NO cohesive or coherent progressive movement. Because there is no such cohesion of progressives they have no real power base to push politicians. Clearly conditions are now that people are OPEN to progressive ideas and why progressive “sounding” politician in this climate can become popular.

    But I have to disagree with HR where he scolds the author for voting for Obama by claiming that Nader or McKinney offered a “choice”. For 2008 the Left was in a state of disarray due especially to their failures in 2004. To believe that people were just going to vote for Nader or McKinney in 2008 especially with a candidate like Obama running is just not being grounded in reality. And the voting results is definitive and reveals that current condition of disarray on the Left.

    This is not a permanent condition however and while Obama reveals in his selection the Clinton retreads the question remain what is the Left going to do to reach and influence the million of Obama supporters or is the Left just going to be on the sidelines scolding the multitudes of Obama supporters with “I told you so”.

  21. Max Shields said on November 23rd, 2008 at 11:45am #

    Deadbeat, you miss the whole point of the majority of the posts here.

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that that is a solid progressive movement in the US; or what is is not coopted by the Dems for the most part. So, I think your argument is just a strawman.

    Second, there are those who voted for McKinney or Nader. They did not expect either would win, nor were they expecting that Obama and the Dems would lose. Again, another strawman.

    So, I don’t think you’ve got “opposition” here. I think you last paragraph is pretty much on the mark. I just think your expecting some kind of “leftist” movement in America. The American Revolution, the last time the US citizenry had some real guts, was not fought by leftist. It was fought from a point of common cause. It was advantaged by having a remote ruler. But the ruled must share the burden of what we have. Remember Rulers do not Rule without those who are ruled.

  22. Don Hawkins said on November 23rd, 2008 at 12:12pm #

    The richest 1% of adults owned 40% of the world’s total assets in the year 2000. The richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of total assets. The bottom half of the world adult population owned 1% of global wealth. (Source: World Institute for Development Economics Research, The World Distribution of Household Wealth, 2006).
    In 1988, per capita GNP in the 20 richest industrial countries was $12,960; in the poorest 33 countries it was $270.
    One percent of all TNCs own fifty percent of all FDI.
    A third was transactions within a single corporation.
    70 percent was controlled by 500 corporations.
    In 1995, 358 billionaires were worth $760 billion, the same as the poorest 20 percent of the world’s people.
    When he was worth $40 billion, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates was worth more than the bottom 110 million Americans (40 percent of the population). By 1998, Gates was worth $59 billion; a year later, he was worth $85 billion. Gates is twice as wealthy as the second richest American, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (worth $40 billion). Number three in 1999 was Warren Buffett (chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, and worth $31 billion). Number four is Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s president (worth $23 billion). Number 5 is Dell Computer CEO Michael Dell (worth a mere $20 billion in 1999).
    The world’s three richest individuals have more wealth than the combined GDP of the 48 poorest countries.
    Worldwide, the top incomes were 30 times greater than the bottom incomes; by 1989 it was 60 times, unless you calculate individuals rather than nations, in which case it was 150 times.
    UNDP data on income distribution:
    Top 20 percent receives 83 percent of all income.
    Second 20 percent receives 12 percent
    Third 20 percent receives 2 percent
    Fourth 20 percent receives 2 percent
    Bottom 20 percent receives 1 percent

  23. bozh said on November 23rd, 2008 at 2:48pm #

    i, too, am s’mwhat at sea by deadbeat’s insistence that change cannot be obtained by the left because, as he says, “it is in disarray”
    is it realy in disarray or is it nearly nonexistent? didn’t only 600K vote for nader and their leftist ideas?
    and don’t also leftists and the rightists warn us w. equal fervor ab what the rise in temperatures of 2-4C might do to our planet.
    likewise, it might take many people, mns and mns, on left/right to change inequities in US.
    yes, we need people on the right! after all, for every leftist there appear to be 200 rightists.
    so let us write pieces and posts that recognize this fact and its significance for change.
    that’s why oft say let’s not blame some 98% of the people; instead let’s attract them.
    and mainly thru education;avoiding not only personal attacks but also attakcs on ideas or free speech.
    remember not to blame perps (priests, plutos) and the perped equally or at all. thnx

  24. Jasmin said on November 23rd, 2008 at 3:21pm #

    People should criticize Obama loudly as a zionist puppet with BLACK mask because tomorrow will be too late.Obama’s selections so far has shown he is worse than others. He has hired AIPAC facilitators and trusted zionists, terrorists and racists such as Rahm Emmanuel, an Israeli citizen, who is coming from a terrorist family and has served in Israeli army in 1990s. As matter of facts Obama did not have a chance to be selected by his master if he did not show his character, a good slave and a liar. Selection of Emmanuel, Biden -self claimed zionist, Hillary, trusted zionist and supporter of Iraq war in addition to having desire to Iran obliteration with nuclear weapons, to serve Israel as a hegomic state and power of the middle east region, an apartheid state, is too much to be ignored here, where he presented himselves as ‘anti war’ candidate. His selection clearly shows he can go to a new level that no WHITE president has gone before. He is supported by the
    black elite who are extremely racists and in bed with zionists who are willing to be used like a toilet paper when it is necessary to buy CREDIBILITY for a broken economic system, usuary, and are in cooperation with ‘the war on terror’ to eliminate muslims from the face of earth. They are actively working hand in hand with zionists to improve their positon through elimination of others and have no SHAME to do it. Some of the so called ‘black progressive’ such as Cornel West has jumped on the ban wagen as well. They will learn soon that they are nothing but fools. The majority of black community have voted for ‘blackness’, therefore, have shown how ignorant are when they chose a puppet not a leader, whose primary mission is to help the usuary economic system where is necessary for establishment of ‘world goverment.’ Richard Holbrook, another zionist criminal, is on the
    list to be selected as deputy for secratary of state. Those who are asking to give more time to zionist puppet, Obama, must get help or confess their sympathy towards zionism worse than fascism. Those who refuse to criticize Obama and using ‘the left’ to cover their faces, should know that Internet is an important instrument to reach black and white to expose Barak Obama, before is too late. When Obama and Ron Paul and others can reach millions of people to collect $ for their campaign, it is foolish not to use this medium to inform and organize and repeadedly emphesize on ‘the left’ where is under thumb of the zionist
    ‘left’ for more than a centuray. When Obama has voted for FISA and sellected all the zionist warmongers those who hesitate to expose him and want to give him more time are either a zionist liar or coming from black community thus protecting their tribe. I am not surprised if Obama gives position of Secratary of State to Holbrook and bring Joe Liberman as an advisor on the middle east especially Iran.

  25. Jasmin said on November 23rd, 2008 at 3:24pm #

    should read position of the secretary of War to Holbrook not secretary of state since this postion is going to a war monger, Hillary Clinton.

  26. Don Hawkins said on November 23rd, 2008 at 3:25pm #

    The battle the war is the truth, knowledge is and always will be. Unfortunately we are out of time so it’s time for a very fast course 101 then 202 and we have ten years to do it in some way’s.

  27. Don Hawkins said on November 23rd, 2008 at 4:57pm #

    In Einstein’s day let’s round it off 75 years ago the basics were found to be true. Many people at that time still believed the Sun revolved around the Earth. The Milky Way galaxy was the known universe. Today much is still not know but what is when talking about the Earth is why most scientists are far beyond worried. The people in control of the money and power the truth the knowledge is there enemy. You have to admit that is nut’s but that is how they think. Climate change will be the end of human civilization if we don’t act now and when you hear about it on TV it is between commercials. Most people now know the Earth revolves around the Sun but because of the little kings and Queens who feel it necessary to keep people thinking that they know best we might not make it. Now these little Emperors who are doing there thing do most know how serious climate change is, yes. But they are the ones who can only understand this and decide what to do or not do. So far it looks like keep making money and the rules. We the people who don’t have power or money as it seems a shallow way of thinking but knowledge need to make our voice much louder.

  28. Don Hawkins said on November 23rd, 2008 at 7:06pm #

    News flash, hay buddy can you spare 100 billion. It looks like in an hour or two the government will, how do they put it, have a capital injection of 100 billion to Citigroup. A bailout as Citigroup is to big to fail. Oh really according to who’s rules? The amount of money that this new administration said it will need to go after climate change is 150 billion over ten years and I guess that is because the Earth is to big to fail. I am sorry people this insanity is getting a little out of hand. I am going to write my congressman and hope the mail is still going through.

  29. Max Shields said on November 23rd, 2008 at 10:19pm #

    It is vitally important to realize the foundation upon which this republic stands. It is a plutocracy. As such, the word democracy, is a light veil covering the essence of this nation from birth to now.

    I really think it is silly to talk about Obama as if he is a black president. He is a carefully selected elitist. He will make every effort to secure the empire. He will point guns hither and yon to do so. He will play with ideas and foist them out a if he had an intention or two.

    He is, if somewhat smarter, no less the servent to the power elite then has been George W. Bush and William J. Clinton before him (and those before them). This is an elite club, and only the thoroughly vetted are allowed to reside in the White House. Each of these Presidents has a personality, but what they say and do is limited by the oath to preside over the empire.

    Again, this is not a democracy but a republican plutocracy. It was set up that way from the beginning and continues right through to this day. Our little charade of fussing about what Obama does, or his selection of this Clinton-retread, or a George W. Bush appointee (Gates), or a Likud chief of staff, etc. etc. is just quaint and totally inconsequential.

    Only real change whereby the system in place disappears as the dominant governance can alter this predicament. When the federal government was created, it was done by the elite to concentrate power, control and wealth at a time when the revolution could have created a real living democracy. That opportunity was stamped out and it has never returned.

    Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy, the whole lot are all part of this plutocracy where behind them the elite of the elite rule. Our constitution was meant for THEM, not the rest of us. We either play along or ….

  30. armean said on November 24th, 2008 at 3:11am #

    Max Shields said:
    “We either play along or …. ”

    ……or you fight, you resist. It’s possible you know. But first you need to stop thinking like an American. First accept that this is a struggle that may not yield any rewards. But it is necessary for it to take place. And then recognize that a small minority could be a hundred times more effective than the majority. The majority are usually apolitical or just followers and it is the same everywhere in the world. It is a case of minority vs. minority. They have all the power but they also have a hubris. We have only our wits or intellects. With discipline, organization and persistance we can accomplish a lot. Hopefully we will not develope a hubris. I believe we are in a perfect situation now. The elite are so full of themselves and so arrogant right now, they think they’ve got it in the bag. It is the perfect time for them to be blindsided.

    I don’t think most of you realize that Obama has already ushered in a great change. Millions of people in this country have not had any voice or any representation in the past eight years. It wasn’t that great before that but not quite as bad as the era of king george, the dimented. Now there is going to be another four years of zero representation. Basicly it keeps getting worse and worse and worse. Many of us have come to the conclusion that the only option left open to us is to fight back. We are angry as hell and we have nothing to lose. And that’s the worst kind of opposition for the elite. So yousee, he has been an agent of change.

    And as far as this article; it’s very “cute”. But we are up to our necks in it, we need to do away with “cute”. We, the third party people, knew you were going to regret it before you voted for him. Now we have to hear you guys bitch and moan about it for four years and then go reelect him for another four years, in which you will continue your bitching and moaning. The thought of listening to you whine for eight years is enough to make me wanna go throw myself off a bridge.

    But keep up the progressive Melodrama. You never know, Bollywood may decide to outsource one day. And you just might become a star.

  31. Don Hawkins said on November 24th, 2008 at 5:54am #

    News update not 100 billion but 300 billion to Citigroup and that would be 300 billion of funny money. Don’t worry everything will be back to normal very soon. Just one little problem my kids and there kid’s and those of you who think a future is a good thing well on this path we need to go back about 100 million years. I have to admit the stupidity of some is jaw dropping to watch.

  32. Don Hawkins said on November 24th, 2008 at 7:49am #

    Frank communication with the public is essential. At present, all around the world,
    governments are guilty of greenwash, an implausible approach of goals and half-measures
    that will barely slow the growth of CO2. The world, not just the United States, needs an open
    honest discussion of what is needed. It is a tremendous burden to place on the Presidentelect,
    who seems to be the only potential candidate. The only chance seems to be if he
    understands the truth – the whole truth. Hansen

    Frank who is Frank? That would be us. I sure hope that some of you out there are trying to get a few million people in front of the halls of power as so far from this new guy doesn’t look good. We could all change are name to Frank, think Frank. Yes a few million yell Frank at the same time. Do you think we could get an echo down those halls? “Think Frank”. $300 billion to Citigroup, “Hallelujah”

  33. Max Shields said on November 24th, 2008 at 10:19am #

    armean not clear on what you mean by “fight back”.

    Resistance is one option, the other is to stop handing over our power. Rulers cannot rule without subjects. Stop being subjects.

    I think a local experiment that would begin the struggle of creating democracy where there is none – here in the USA – would be a local movement. It would start with a clear platform, a declaration of justice. A movement coalescing around specifics would yield a force which must be reckoned with; an unending, relentless people’s movement. Leaders would come from the movement, chosen by the movement.

    This would start, not at the abstract monolithic “national” level, but at a one, a hundred, thousands of localities where we can identify one another and breath the same air and talk and move on talk with specific action. A locality can be transformed.

    A local movement can become a much larger movement. But you need to start where you are. The country is just too fragmented. If there is a movement, as the collapse continues to unfold, labor, civil and human rights groups will build solidarity. But that solidarity, to be substantive, must start with a nucleus, a sustainable energy, a people power which cannot be denied because it is real.

  34. bozh said on November 24th, 2008 at 10:46am #

    small, local org’s wld be an excellent way to go. one cld inform people in own neighbourhood. and one wldn’d need money.
    once we r dependent on money to be able to educate we r doomed. plutos have lot more of it and wld use it against us. dissemination of usaeful information orally cannot be detered even w. money.
    or can it also? thnx

  35. HR said on November 24th, 2008 at 11:24am #

    Local control sounds good, but it is nothing more than neofeudalism. Even under our current federal system of government, the various local gentry run things with an iron fist even more repressive than a national dictatorship would. Different laws for different locales, according to then whims of the local ruling elite. I’ll take a national government any day. At least it provides a means of correction when the local rulers get too far out of control.

  36. Max Shields said on November 24th, 2008 at 12:21pm #

    HR, yes there are rulers everywhere. The answer is not to simply point that out but to actually (I did say this) create a movement.

    This must be a tireless movement that doesn’t end with an election or a solution, but vigilantly moves to keep a grounded democracy alive. It must be integrated into our way of life.

    I’ll give you this much, Americans have gotten so lazy that the “ruling gentry” have ruled with impunity. But that won’t change unless people change it. The rulers only exist because WE LET THEM!

  37. HR said on November 24th, 2008 at 2:09pm #

    Hard to accomplish with a social herding species like humans. History would suggest it’s an impossibility, except for short periods of time. Local control must always have some broader oversight that controls it or it becomes the worst tyranny.

  38. Garrett said on November 24th, 2008 at 3:16pm #

    There’s a difference between local control and local movement. All “movements” start small.

  39. bozh said on November 24th, 2008 at 3:37pm #

    one herds animals, not a people. one miseducates, misleads people but not sheep.
    lying, cheating, deceiving had been w. us for millennia . these powerful “tools’.
    i affirm that nearly everyone has been taken in by just such ruses. but i, being a victim, blame strongly the lyars.
    the lyars, that have succeeded millennia ago to destroy almost completely one our greatest wealths, that of trusting other humans.
    isn’t that one of the causes for our stress; alcohol,drugs, pills consumption?
    let’s blame lyars and not the people!

  40. armean said on November 25th, 2008 at 5:25am #

    I don’t seperate fighting and resistance. At this point they’re the same or very closely related. By fighting I don’t mean armed struggle if that’s what you thought I meant. Instead, becoming the gadfly that keeps buzzing around the giant’s head. You have to throw the giant off his balance and the easiest way to do that, as far as the Americans version is concerned, is to make him feel uncomfortable. Sometimes you just have to let him you know you exist. It’s a very long discussion, unfortunatley.

    You said:
    “I think a local experiment that would begin the struggle of creating democracy where there is none – here in the USA – would be a local movement. It would start with a clear platform, a declaration of justice. A movement coalescing around specifics would yield a force which must be reckoned with; an unending, relentless people’s movement. Leaders would come from the movement, chosen by the movement.”

    That is precisely it. So will you start in your locality? And can you find two other guys who will help you?

  41. Max Shields said on November 25th, 2008 at 6:53am #


    All my posts (certainly the ones that are a call to action) are my walking the talk. So, this is not simply about posting some wild-ass ideas on DV. The short answer to your question: “So will you start in your locality? Absolutely! “Can you find two other guys who will help you? More than two and not just “guys”!!

  42. armean said on November 25th, 2008 at 2:58pm #

    So what rout are you taking? And how do you go about it? It’s a serious question. I’m not playing a game of ‘gotcha’.

    And by “guys” I meant everyone. My native languages are not gender specific. I don’t seperate male and female. I have a pair of those lumps on my own chest and it’s quite a handicap. Combine that with an accent, which as a man would have gotten me laid, but as a woman it’s just another handicap. It’s fantastic how the liberal and progressive men beat their chests for Palestinian rights half way around the world. Yet they completely fail at seeing the woman standing next to them as an equal.

  43. Max Shields said on November 25th, 2008 at 7:05pm #


    I would not pretend to have a blue print, but there are universal principles which are the touch points of transformation.

    I would start with understanding the works of Ernesto Cortes who change parts of San Antonio for Mexican Americans. It is not so much what he did but how he did it.

    We are working on initiatives that follow the path of a co-created mission. The mission mobalizes toward a vision. People meet to discuss ideas, propose and we bring resources, and utilize local media to promote as well as strategic approaches to leverage the municipality.

    Change on a human-scale is quite doable. Too many people let frustration end their quest, and drives them to cynicism. Frustration is natural, but just when it seems futile – a break through. And brick by brick you begin to transform the local narrative. And it makes its way into the region and beyond.

    This is how nature transforms and continues to emergy. Reality is the emergence of a new narrative, replacing and creating a new reality.

    Avoid at all costs, using hierarchical models. Nature is not a hierachy. Hierarchies are about domination, control over, and ultimate is the basis of this (USA) and all previous empires. A movement is not a hierarchical organization; it is self-organizing and emergent. It can move mountains and topple cancerous imperial empires.

    None of this precludes deep understanding of universal principles that guide everything. Understanding wealth and poverty in a deep way will help eradicate. Superficiality is the enemy of a sustainable vision.

  44. armean said on November 25th, 2008 at 10:13pm #

    Thanks for a great response. It certainly made the wheels inside my head moving again. Very interesting. To be honest I had never heard of Cortez. But I think, now I will go and study him a little bit.

    I also like this line and will quote it quite often, with your permission;
    “Superficiality is the enemy of a sustainable vision.”

    PS; I will continue my gadfly bit though, mainly because of it’s instant gratification, therapy and the exercise I get while I do my bits. Well, enough said. Thanks again.

  45. craig said on November 26th, 2008 at 10:38am #

    Hey, you’re scaring me. Did your parents teach you anything about patience. Let the man be sworn in and give him the benefit of the doubt. Is the left completely nuerotic?

  46. CJ said on December 1st, 2008 at 12:25pm #

    oh shut the fuck up you tool. We dont need a dove president hes doing the right things and making the right choices so shove it in your fat ass